Alexandra + Alexandra = team Alexa

Posted on by Sasha & Sasha

Categories: blog and student posts

Hi! We are a team of computational linguists/Python/Django developers from Moscow, Russia. We are working on a JClub project. It’s a social network for LGBTQI+ people. It’s built using Django framework, and our goal is to make it multilingual.

Team

About Sasha (melanoya)

melanoya

Photo taken by Alexandra Martynova
  • Four and a half years ago Sasha was going to be an interpreter and believed that she had no talent for math and programming.
  • She studied Russian sign language for two years, and knows it better than any other foreign language.
  • She can juggle and do slacklining.
  • From the first year at the university Sasha’s been studying Yiddish. She even went once to Moldova to find there native Yiddish speakers.
  • Adores phonetics and automatic speech recognition!

 

About Sasha (religofsil)

religofsil

Photo taken by Alexandra Ershova
  • Gives public lectures on computational linguistics, chatbots, machine learning, and all that AI stuff. Once managed to explain to a group of 11-year-olds how neural networks work, was (and still is) very proud of herself.
  • At 16 she made a promise to herself that she will never ever ever get into programming. Broke it at 19, first week at the university.
  • Listens to a lot of music. Like, A LOT. Used to spend most of her money on concert tickets, been to a 30+ shows.
  • Can’t do anything without tea, drinks up to 10 cups of tea per day.
  • Studied Indonesian for a year, just for fun.

 

team alexa

Photo of Sasha and Sasha taken by Sergey Ershov

We met each other four years ago at the university. Despite the fact that we’ve been classmates, we met only at the end of the first year in preparation for the exam in language theory. Then we went roller-skating, and from there our friendship began. Many walks, board games, delicious food and joint projects awaited us in the future. During these years, we worked together on many projects in various fields, from sociolinguistics to web development, and we’ve always been a great team, because we make each other stronger.

Coaches

Kate:

Kate

Photo taken by Ekaterina Ageeva

Back at the university Katya was one of the students, just like us, only a year older. After her second year, she started doing Google Summer of Code, received Anita Borg scholarship, and gave several talks about it at the university. She’s the person who inspired us (and many other students) to try and get into summer of code programs. Katya is not only our coach, she’s also our role model, and a person who gave us much needed moral support throughout the application process and first few weeks of RGSoC, when everything was unclear and kind of scary. Right now Katya works at Google, at London office, so we have to use Hangouts for our meetings.

Ildar:

Sasha and Ildar

Photo of Alexandra Ershova and Ildar taken by Alexandra Martynova

Ildar is a data scientist who we met before the very beginning of the program at PyData meetup. Before being our coach, he was a Django Girls mentor. When we told him about Rails Girls Summer of Code, he immediately wanted to be our coach. It is rare to meet a person who so unexpectedly appears in life and begins to play an important role in it. It turned out that Ildar, like us, is interested in the natural language processing (and, unlike us, knows Python and Django very well :)) He lives in Moscow, so we often meet for lunch and discuss our project. These lunches are very helpful, as everything becomes much clearer after our meetings.

Project

The JoopeA Club is a social network for Persian LGBTQI+ community. It is supposed to be a safe space for people of any gender and/or sexual orientation. Right now the social network is only available for people who speak Persian. Our task for this summer is to build support for other languages, so that more people could use the social network.

We picked this project not only because it matches our skills, but because we believe in its social importance. Living in a country where homophobia is the default option makes you appreciate safe spaces and communities where people are allowed to be themselves and can talk openly about their problems, without the risk of breaking the laws or being called names. We hope that our work for JoopeA Club will make at least some difference for some people.

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